It is with sadness that I learned of the death on Thursday of this great Australian artist in hospital close to his home in Italy.
The Australian Financial Review (22-23 June 2013) has the above on the front page with a good-sized write-up on page 7 documenting not only his personal history and significant sales of art works over the years but speculating on the value of his works from this point forward.
Earlier this week it was announced that TV mogul Reg Grundy is selling off 90 paintings from his extensive collection of Australian art, amongst them Luxury Cruise painted by Jeffrey Smart in 1972/73. Expected to fetch between $350,000 and $480,000 it will be interesting to see what price it eventually reaches. This may be the first indication of where the market will go with his works as he wasn’t particularly prolific and scarcity of available pieces may drive the prices of the few on offer to new heights.
Having long been a fan myself I purchased this book, written by Barry Pearce, several years ago. Anyone wanting to research this great man would do well to check it out as it details a life history, a record of his thoughts and inspirations, an explanation of many of his works and also contains an abundance of colour plates, many showcasing works in private hands that the public may never get to see.
Every art gallery I visit I ask if they have works of his on show and I’ve spent many an hour sitting in front of his paintings trying to fathom what it is that attracts me so much. Partly it’s the simplicity, the generic appearance of many of his landscapes that, whilst often Australian, could be just about anywhere. It’s the somewhat undefined figure, very often in the distance, giving that splash of something more organic than the straight lines, the regimented buildings, the linear fencing, road cones, lines of buses, car and container lorries. One I particularly like is Portrait of Clive James, 1991/92, owned by The Art Gallery of NSW. I wonder what Clive himself thinks of it?
I hope there is no problem putting this photo in because the image is freely available everywhere on the net.
Barry Pearce, Jeffrey Smart, The Beagle Press, Sydney. 2005. ISBN 978-0-646-55361-0
AFR, 22-23/6/13. Front cover and page 7 – Photos by Sahlan Hayes & Jesse Marlow.